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DONKEY POWER - THE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY ALTERNATIVE
With all the talk about pollution from vehicles I don't see why we can't take a leaf from the books of two villages in England. Think of all the money that would be saved in fuel costs and fertilizers for gardens.
Villagers from Chalford; near Stroud in Gloucestershire are trying to raise money to buy a donkey for the village, which could cost as much as £600. Parts of the village are so steep and narrow that they are impassable by car. Any shopping has to be carried up the hill to the houses.
Historically the village has used donkeys for delivering bread and also coal from the canal which is close by.
The whole village is backing the campaign to "Bring back the Chalford Donkey" and is hoping that someone might donate a donkey. Some residents think that donkeys should replace all cars in the village. Even the local store has said they are considering making some deliveries by donkey. Just imagine the delighted faces of the children when the donkey arrives with the groceries.
Some residents have resorted to ordering their shopping to be delivered from supermarkets but are not happy with the vans in the village, they have said that they would much rather get the groceries delivered by donkey.
What a fantastic idea; provided the donkeys are well treated don't you think?
The village has their donkey. He's called Teddy and was bought from a man who runs donkey rides on a South Wales beach. He is a firm favourite with the children of the village but unfortunately they aren't allowed to ride him due to the insurance costs. Teddy's running costs are funded by donations. Although he is fairly low maintenance it does cost around £700 per year to keep him.
He works every Saturday; carrying shopping up the hill from the shop in the valley. He carries in the region of 30lbs weight although Donkey welfare officer have said that he can carry up to 4 times this. Teddy also has a companion called Chester but he doesn't carry any shopping.
In North Devon there is a village that has been doing this for years. It is called Clovelly and it is built on a valley side . It has a picturesque harbour and a steep cobbled street.
The village is more than 900 years old and is mentioned in the Domesday Book. It has an Iron Age settlement at Clovelly Dykes. The street is so steep and narrow in places that it is not possible to get vehicles into the village.
The village was falling into ruin but was restored in the mid 1880's by the lady of the village; saving many of the cottages and having the main street cobbled.
They have around a dozen donkeys and a couple of mules. In the past any goods that needed to be carried up the street were carried on donkeys. Any goods that were carried down the street were carried on sledges because the street is too steep for the donkeys to carry a load safely donwhill. The donkeys brought the mail, fish from the harbour and many other things up the steep street. For a while donkeys carried tourists up from the harbour to the fountain but this was stopped in the 1960s because adults were riding them. When donkeys fell out of use for other jobs and the fishing industry had declined, the New Inn in the centre of the village, still had all its goods carried up by donkeys.
Until about 10 years ago the donkeys were still carrying up visitors' luggage, the empty beer crates and barrels, rubbish and laundry . Even nowadays the donkeys still carry the luggage to the inn on occasion. For this they wear special saddles.
Today, in summer, the donkeys give childrens' rides around their meadow and can be seen posing for photos in the street. In winter the local children ride and drive them in the woods. Perhaps if more villages like Chalford show an interest in donkey power Clovelly will once again use their donkeys to deliver goods.
Some interesting donkey facts:
A male donkey is called a jack.
A female donkey is called a jennet or jenny.
When a female horse and a male donkey mate, the resulting offspring is called a ‘mule’.
When a male horse and a female donkey mate, the offspring is called a ‘hinny’.
© Susan Bailey 2008 All Rights Reserved